I’m reading Dan Scwabel’s book, Me 2.0. I’ve just started but it’s good with lots of info and good advice. The forward was written by William Arruda founder of Reach Communications and coauthor of Career Distinction. In it he says about the future of work in the US,
Your personal brand – and reputation – will be the true constant in this ultradynamic environment, where you must constantly demonstrate your value. It will enable you to attract opportunities that align with your skills, passions and strengths. And it will ensure that you have a career that is both rewarding and successful.
This is so true and not just in the positive as evidenced by a recent experience on mine. Recently I was approached by a colleague who asked for my assistance. He was developing a proposal for the creation of a professional services organization for a leader in the enterprise RSS space. This is a company that has the potential to achieve greatness if they can learn how to execute with current and future clients – some of whom are enormous. My colleague asked for my help to sanity check his proposal as well as to provide my insights into the company since I was employed there as a contract product manager for all individual end user products not long ago. I’m always happy to help so I dove in with him. While creating the plan my colleague asked me if I’d be interested in being the Practice Manager for the new professional services organization. I said that indeed I would be. He said he would propose it to the CEO of the company – a man I know and respect a great deal – and we’d see what we could do.
The next week I got the news that it was a non-starter. You see, when I was at this company before I made a significant mistake and let my pride and ego get in the way of good judgment and professionalism. In a moment of utter frustration I yelled at the CTO/Founder of the company and I did it in front of one of his staff. I apologized after but the damage was done and, as evidenced by my being rejected as a candidate for the Practice Manager role, the damage was irrevocable.
And that’s my message here. With the proliferation of social media it is incredibly simple to create and build a personal brand and reputation. But if one isn’t careful, the brand that’s built will hinder and not help one’s career. It doesn’t matter to the management team of the Enterprise RSS company that I was ashamed of my behavior and apologized and it doesn’t matter that I was telling the truth when I said what I said. Nor does it matter that I’ve grown personally and professionally and dealt with the personal demons that lead to my unprofessional behavior. The damage was done and the brand that I created in that moment is one that isn’t marketable to that company.
It really sucks because I have a great fondness for the company and the role would have been exciting and fun and I could have made a huge contribution. Don’t repeat my mistake – please get that every moment of every day you are building your brand and reputation. Be vigilant and make sure you’re building one that helps you.